Is it really April already? The TechRadar calendar certainly seems to suggest so, but how can that be?
Ah well, while we attempt to recapture our frame of reference and work out what day it is, let's check out this week's best reviews because there have been some crackers...
Like with the Panasonic TZ35, Panasonic has made some small, but useful, changes to the Panasonic TZ40 that elevate it above its predecessor. Although it's a little more expensive than the Panasonic TZ35, those extras will no doubt appeal to a good number of people. If you're a novice photographer looking for an all-round good performer with a flexible zoom length for your trips away, this is an excellent choice. Equally, it's also good for those a little more experienced, as the fully manual and semi-automatic modes attest to. Overall, it's an excellent camera, which should be one of the highest considerations for those looking for the ideal travel compact that offers more than some of the standard options on the market.
Despite having actually seen, touched and played an Ouya, the console still feels pretty enigmatic. Like any video game system, it's going to live or die by its games, and we're still not sure what those will be. While we found the titles from our demo to be well adapted to the console and charmingly odd, none of them struck us as system sellers. If the Ouya were to launch in the state that we saw - with no true streaming video service, a smattering of dark-horse titles and games already available elsewhere - we'd say that team Ouya has sold all the systems it's going to sell through its Kickstarter campaign. But we doubt that's going to happen. If there's one thing that the Ouya has proven to be good at, time and time again, it's surprises. We just wish that we'd seen enough to throw more than our cautious optimism behind it.
It's fair to say that normally if you see a price of less than £800/US$800 attached to a 51-inch TV, you probably won't expect that TV to be up to much. Right from the start, though, the Samsung PS51E490 starts trying to oppose those negative expectations with a design that's stylish, if a bit too chunky to be trendy. But once you've taken a few shortcomings on the chin, it's pretty much all uphill from there with this TV. HD picture quality in 2D and 3D mode is surprisingly strong, with good colours, more sharpness than expected, solid motion reproduction and a handy contrast performance by budget TV standards. Yes, you can get better plasma TVs if you spend more money, but so what? The Samsung PS51E490 is specifically designed for people who can't afford to spend more money, and it satisfies the likely needs of that target audience well.
The Panasonic HC-V720 has a good bundle of features that are very appealing, but a lack of sharpness and a little too much noise and colour banding lets its images down. We think this is due to the budget-standard image sensor in the camcorder. Now, we're not suggesting that we should be getting full frame DSLR sensors in a camcorder of this price, but with Panasonic's own Micro Four Thirds Lumix G3 selling for £350 / US$350 / AU$450, we feel like a bigger sensor shouldn't be out of the question. The important thing when considering whether to get the Panasonic HC-V720, then, isn't whether it'll give you vastly improved image quality in your video over what some cameras or the best smartphones will do. Sadly, it often won't. But we couldn't have achieved the shots in our sample video without it, and for that, we think it'll still be thoroughly worth the investment for some people anyway.
On its own merits, the LG Optimus G is an accomplishment. It hails a return to form for LG after numerous smartphone failures, and if this were last year, it would be a home-run, for sure. But, it's not last year, and as LG finds its feet with the Optimus G, the competition is sprinting past with newer, faster, prettier phones, with better cameras and the latest features. The Optimus G stacks up well next to a Galaxy S3 or an HTC One X, but not so well next to their successors.
As smartphone toys go, the Orbotix Sphero has a lot of recommend it. It's easy to setup and fun to use - thanks to a variety of largely free and low priced games. The Sphero itself isn't perfect - sometimes, the ball's controls get a little eccentric during play - but if our biggest complaint is that its one hour battery is too short that only goes to show how great it is to have this ball around.
And this week's other reviews...
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